Heavenly Hende

Dave and Becky Austin began to fear something was wrong with their two-year-old daughter Emilie in the summer of 2012.

Hepatoblastoma, a form of liver cancer, was diagnosed, with secondary tumours on her lungs.

She began chemotherapy, but reacted badly. Dave and Becky were warned to prepare for the worst as it was feared their daughter wouldn't make it through the night.

But Emilie proved a remarkable fighter. She bounced back, was placed on a list for a liver transplant, and a match was found. The operation was performed in January 2013.

The Austins knew their 30s three-bed semi in Cheadle Hulme was not suitable for Emilie to return to.

Dave, an interior designer, sketched out an idea for a new open-plan kitchen and living area, to give Emilie a safe environment when she came out of hospital.

They emptied their bank account, borrowed money from Becky's parents, and asked friends and neighbours to recommend a good builder. The name that kept cropping up was Ian Henderson, of local family firm Hende Building Services.

"Ian called in, checked my drawings and gave me a quote," said Dave, who explained Emilie's situation. But the Austins' limited budget wouldn't stretch far enough. Reluctantly, Dave thanked Ian and showed him out.

"Three minutes later there was a knock at the front door, and Ian was still standing there," said Dave. "He said he'd take it on, and do all the work with the budget we'd got!"

Ian, 49, recalled: "We went through what he could and couldn't have. I gave him a quote which was cost and below, but he still didn't have enough. I went outside and sat in the car with my head in my hands. Sometimes in life you have to let your heart rule your head. I went back to the front door, I said give me your hand, and I said I'd do it."

Ian enlisted the help of his suppliers. "I explained the situation, told them I was doing the job at cost, and said any assistance would be appreciated," he said.

They all came good. He got a special price from the skip hire, a firm in Scotland donated timber, and others worked extra hours for nothing.

Ian and his crew built a wraparound extension and kitchen/lounge in which Becky could cook while still monitoring Emilie's movements.

By working through the night, everything was ready for the family's return. When they arrived home, there was an even bigger surprise for Emilie. Ian had replastered and redecorated her bedroom for nothing, and sorted out a condensation problem.

"He went above and beyond the call of duty," said Dave. "All the work was done while we were with Emilie in hospital. They found the damp had spread to the stairs, so they treated and replaced everything for free. I'm in the interior business myself, and I've come across a lot of builders. Quite honestly, Ian is above the rest."

Emilie is now four, and doing well at school.

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Heavenly Hende

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